Category Archives: Twitter storm

Southwark council decide DV survivor can be street homeless – Stand up to Southwark council!

Update today, cllr for Housing Stephanie Cryan responded to our email saying that they are looking for private accommodation for C. We have responded that this is unacceptable. We will not let Southwark council avoid a homelessness duty to C with an offer of insecure, unaffordable private rented accommodation. Forcing homeless people into the homelessness-generating private sector is not a solution. Homeless people, particularly survivors of domestic violence, need the security of council housing. We reiterate our request that the council reverse their cruel and harmful decision not to accept a full homeless duty towards C and we invite you to support our demand (see below).

We are deeply concerned and distressed that our member C, who is a survivor of long term domestic abuse which has left her with post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety, panic attacks and other medical issues, has been deemed not in priority need and therefore able to live on the streets by Southwark council yesterday.

We are calling on Southwark to immediately reverse this decision, accept a full homeless duty to C and ensure that she has suitable temporary accommodation in Peckham where she has important family connections. Please join us in tweeting the council @lb_southwark and the councillor for housing @steviecryan to show your support for C.

The new vulnerability test used by councils to decide whether someone is vulnerable enough to be deemed ‘priority need’ – and therefore owed a full homeless duty if other criteria are met as well – looks at whether the applicant would suffer significantly more than ‘an ordinary person’ if they were faced with street homelessness. Clearly our member C, who suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome caused by many years of domestic abuse, would suffer more than an ‘ordinary person’ if she is forced into street homelessness, which is a very real threat. (Although obviously there are clear problems with this test as no one should be forced into street homelessness.)

We are shocked that the council found otherwise, and we are deeply concerned at some of the reasons they gave in deciding that C can live on the streets – they literally say she has the ‘skills’ to deal with street homelessness. Here are some of the statements made by the housing officer when coming to the decision. C’s attempts to get on with her life, and her vital support networks, are used against her as proof by the housing officer that she can cope with homelessness with statements such as – you made an ESA application, therefore you can live on the streets, you made this homeless application, therefore you can live on the streets. As well as these ridiculous conclusions, there is also a deep lack of understanding of vulnerability (having good mobility and literacy skills are used as evidence that she is not vulnerable) and the daily struggle many survivors experience in dealing with domestic violence. These are just some of the hurtful statements contained in the letter that C read yesterday. (our bold and italics)

This Authority understands that you were naturally adversely affected by your experiences as the victim of domestic abuse. However we are of the opinion that your experiences have not prevented you from managing your affairs and accessing relevant services and support from friends and professionals organisations…As a result, we are satisfied that your medical and social issues have not prevented you from undertaking most everyday tasks. It is therefore considered that you have the ability and skills to cope in your situation of homelessness.”

It is the Council’s opinion that you are not vulnerable as a result of your medical condition or your history of domestic violence. We have considered that these circumstances do not significantly impede your normal function or impair your ability to manage your daily tasks, including using public transport, shopping, cooking and managing your health and finances.”

We are also concerned that when C went for her homelessness interview last month, she was denied her supporter that she requested attend with her. Again highlighting how Southwark council have failed to support the interests and well being of survivors. It is likely that the absence of a supporter would have made the interview more difficult for C.

Last month, with the support of South East London Sisters Uncut we highlighted Southwark’s poor treatment of DV survivors with our member S. Southwark council reversed their decision as a result of public pressure on twitter and promised to investigate and produce a policy to ensure that DV survivors receive adequate support and treatment through the difficult homeless application process. But we have not heard anything from Southwark council about this, and yesterday’s decision clearly shows that staff urgently need training on understanding domestic violence and its impact on survivors’ lives.

We will be supporting C to review the council’s decision, but we also believe it is unfair and detrimental to her well being that she should be made to go through this difficult process. We hope that Southwark will take immediate action to reverse the decision.

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Lambeth council – urgent action needed

Dear Lambeth council, Leader of Lambeth council Lib Peck, Councillor Jim Dickson Cabinet Member for Health and Well-being, Councillor Mohammed Seedat Cabinet Member for Jobs and Housing, and Councillor Sonia Winifred Cabinet Memeber for Healthy Neighbourhoods,

Today, a member of our group who is a victim of domestic abuse, was housed outside the borough of Lambeth where she feels safe and into temporary accommodation that is unfit for living. She has been housed in a borough she is unfamiliar with and far away from the vital support networks she has developed in Lambeth. The accommodation has broken fire alarms, a sign about cockroaches having been in the house, and serious damp and mould – please see photos below. The woman from the estate agents who showed previous people around said that people had refused to stay there – no doubt these people have been classed as ‘intentionally homeless’.

When we asked the placement officer if other Lambeth accommodation had been looked into – as the Supreme Court recently stated local authorities must do – the reply was that there was no accommodation in Lambeth. When we asked if Lambeth council had modified its policy on this the placement officer said there was a policy but they didn’t know what this was.

Our member and her young children are due to move into this unsuitable and dangerous temporary accommodation tomorrow – Tuesday 28th April. We are asking you to urgently find alternative, suitable accommodation for the family in Lambeth. Please email us today on haslemail@gmail.com to resolve this situation.

We hope this can be sorted out immediately so that our housing group does not need to make another visit to Olive Morris House this week for a situation that should not have happened in the first place.

Yours sincerely, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth

Please tweet your concern and support for our HASL member to @lambeth_council

mould in the flat

mould in the flat

broken fire alarms

broken fire alarms

damp in the flat

damp in the flat

Twitter Storm @Lambeth_Council this Thursday from 12pm – Stop pushing homeless people into the private sector!

Children lying in the small, cramped room of private accommodation.

Children lying in the small, cramped room of private accommodation.

Join and share our facebook event here

Since 2012 councils across the UK have been granted the power by the Coalition government to discharge their duty to homeless people with an offer in the private sector and manage their own social housing allocation policies. Before the Localism Act homeless people who the council had a duty to house would eventually get secure, affordable social housing in their local community. Now, homeless people can be forced to accept accommodation in the private sector where they are at risk of more evictions and homelessness as well as being forced out of their home borough and even beyond London because of high London rents. Scroll down to the bottom of this blog to read a HASL members experience of being forced to go through this process by Lambeth council.

The Localism Act means increased housing precarity, social cleansing, and yet more public subsidy for private landlords through housing benefit. Homeless people are having their lives made even more difficult by these policies which deny them much needed secure, social housing. What is left of our social housing stock is also at risk as councils’ new housing allocations policies (basically heavily restricting who can apply for social housing) make it look like there is less demand for social housing when in reality demand for quality, secure, truly affordable housing is massive.

The Focus E15 mums, who were threatened with being moved out of their home of Newham to Manchester and Hastings, have been taking action on this issue for a year now under the banner ‘Social Housing, Not Social Cleansing’. In our previous blog, we look at how the Localism Act is playing out in Lambeth with Lambeth council lowering the band that homeless people are in meaning that they are unlikely to get much needed social housing, while at the same time playing a trick on homeless people, encouraging them to find private sector accommodation with the promise that this will move them up a band and closer to social housing.

We think manipulating people like this and denying social housing to those in need is wrong! Everyone deserves affordable, secure, quality, social housing.

At the same time the leader of Lambeth has made sure to speak at MIPIM, the “worlds largest property fair”, in London next month. No doubt Lib Peck wishes to welcome more speculative money and unaffordable developments wrecking our borough.

Enough!

If you are on Twitter join us this Thursday between 12pm and 2pm to Tweet at Lib Peck and Lambeth Council. Help us ruffle some feathers and get some answers.

We want to know:

– Why is Lambeth council failing homeless people by forcing them into the private sector?

– Why has Lambeth adopted an allocation policy that undermines the demand for social housing while tricking applicants that their chances of social housing will be improved?

To tweet at Lambeth Council add @Lambeth_council to your tweet. To tweet at Lib Peck add @cllrpeck

Click below to use our tweet buttons.

HASL members experience of being stuck in temporary accommodation and pressured into the private sector.

“I am a mother of 2 little ones. One thing that I never thought about is by having a family our lives will be really hard. I had to quit my job when I had my 2 children due to the cost of the nursery. Rip off.

And unfortunately with time our family become homeless we were living with a friend in his council flat and Lambeth repossessed the flat and put us in a temporary accommodation in Upper Tulse hill (this temporary accommodation is on a council estate and was formerly council housing until it was bought under Right to Buy. Now the council are paying housing benefit to a private landlord for a temporary home which had once been secure social housing).

I feel directly touch by this social cleansing in Lambeth, we are trying to get our head out of the water but Lambeth and this new policy about housing keep pushing us inside the water to drown us more and more maybe until we died who knows !!!

We live in a constant fears our situation is just unfair because we can’t access to affordable social housing we have to stay poor. Lambeth push us to rent privately with ridiculous amount of rent that we can’t afford with no other choice, and if we can’t pay rent then we have to move out from Lambeth… we are harassed, blackmailed and not respected as human beings by Lambeth and this new law.

Us people in temporary accommodation we are like a donkey who run behind the carrot that we will never get. You go to private and I move you to band B, that is a disgrace.

I am trying to get back to work and can’t apply to any job as I need to make sure I will still get housing benefit to be able to pay my expensive rent otherwise will get homeless again. Basically Lambeth keep us in this situation, a Labour party which should help us, don’t.

My heart is in Brixton and I will fight to stay where I belong to, the more we are the stronger we will get.  We can’t be treated like animal because we are homeless.”

HASL and the London Coalition Against Poverty are researching into the Localism Act and how it is playing out across London, as well as planning actions on the issue. Get in touch if you’d like to be involved or if you’d like to share what’s happening in your borough. haslemail[at]gmail.com